Thursday, February 21, 2013

Really Bad Writing Advice: 6 Top Reasons Being an Author is So Much Better Than Actually Writing

With the author vs. writer debate breaking out in all its impassioned glory on LinkedIn lately, I thought I would impede everyone else’s writing career with some really bad advice on the subject.

1. Writing involves sitting in your room alone with only your characters and the occasional gnawing sense of doom for companionship. How much fun is that?

Being an auteur, on the other hand, involves people strewing your path with rose petals which you don’t actually get to admire because people are falling at your feet, totally interfering with your rose petal experience. (And no, I don't mean auteur the way Truffaut used it in expounding his theory of directing films; I'm just being pretentious. French is so good for that.)

2. Writing involves taking in critiques, edits, notes, copyedits, and people who point out they don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

Auteurship involves foot massages.

3. Writing involves having deadlines and roots your don’t actually have time to go get colored because you’re chained to your laptop.

Auteurship involves shopping for smashing yet artsy outfits made of silk spun by special magic silk worms to wear to your next auteurish event. (n.b. Auteurs have naturally good hair, and don’t have to worry about their roots.)

4. Writing involves a shitload of coffee.

Auteurship involves champagne, mostly on the Queen Mary, in the 1920’s, with a lot of witty repartee and bugle beads.

5. Writing requires, well, writing.

Auteurship involves status.

6. Writing is real. Actual stuff has to go onto an actual page. Then it has to be made good. And it might still not be good enough. How stultifying (and also hard) and potentially gut-wrenching. Who wants a wrenched gut?

Auteurship, on the other hand, is largely imaginary. Except for the foot massages, which you can actually go get any time you want to, except that it will take time away from your looming deadline.

Writing sucks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Really Bad Writing Advice: Organization is Bad

All right, so the second half of my novel-in-progress is kind of a mess. All right, an actual mess. All right, so the arc kind of droops with a scoliosis kind of twist at a point when droopiness is not exactly what I was going for.

After some mean-spirited yet rational person advised it was a poor idea to demand that my Facebook, Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn, and Listserv friends send me over some writing software that would fix the problem for me upon installation, preferably while I slept, I resorted to the notecard.

There they were, a monument to hoarding, slightly yellowed, a lifetime supply from when my kid took Spanish and we spent almost an entire year laboring under the delusion that notecards help kids learn languages.

Then I bought a corkboard. (Two actually – thinking that this mess might require a vast panorama of color-coded notecards, spreading six feet across my dining room.) Then I found some flashy, multicolored thumbtacks. And some matching pastel post-its that I could use to make some really insipid pastel rainbows should I ever finish reorganizing the second half of my book.

And now, in the story arc that should culminate in the repair of my novel and the first aspiring truth ever involving Staples, we reach the premature and unanticipated horror of organization: My dog, my writer’s assistant, companion, and eater of paper (I like to think of this as editing choices from the Great Beyond) likes flashy multi-colored thumbtacks. A lot. Also notecards. I hesitate to describe the amount of chasing, cajoling, and offers of salami, brie, Puperoni, and leftover almond cookies from take-out Chinese were involved in getting my thumbtack back.

Suffice to say, not only did organization almost kill my dog, but the convincing of my dog to return the notecard with the thumbtack lodged in it was highly distracting and not conducive to unscrambling my novel.

Eschew organization. It could kill your dog.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Surprise! A Break From Really Bad Writing Advice: Auction for Agent & Editor Critiques

Hi all,

Not that I feel guilty about dispensing all the really bad writing advice or anything like that. Not me. No. Nothing like that. However, I just came upon a group of ebay auctions to benefit the charitable activities of the San Francisco Writers Conference, and they look enticing. The items being auctioned are manuscript critiques and consultations from a group of children's book editors and agents whose names you will recognize.

Only think how much of my really bad writing advice could be counteracted by three or four minutes with one of these folks!

It's hard to see anything but win-win-win-win-win here, and I thought my writer friends would want to know.

Here's the URL:

The auctions end soon. Happy bidding,